The Line Between Vulnerability and Oversharing
How far is too far when it comes to opening up?
Moe Carrick had butterflies in her stomach when she sat down recently with an employee who had just returned to work after having a baby. This was going to be a hard conversation.
Although she was thrilled to have the team member back, Carrick had noticed that during Zoom calls the baby was always in the new mom’s arms. She found herself wondering: Had she come back too soon? Was she ready to take her responsibilities back on? Was she giving her all to the team the way she used to? As a mother of three herself, Carrick felt concern, judgment, and guilt all at the same time.
To Carrick, a leadership consultant and author of Bravespace Workplace: Making Your Company Fit for Human Life, these were all clues that it was time to “rumble with vulnerability” — have a real conversation, even if it’s tough. “My palms were sweating a little bit before that conversation, and I bet hers were too,” says Carrick.
When the two women sat down, the new mom admitted that she had been feeling shame about not doing enough, Carrick recalls: “And I said, ‘You are doing enough. And you may have been feeling shame because I was judging the heck out of you.’”
It was a profoundly uncomfortable admission, but for Carrick, the honesty was worth the discomfort.
Having trained as a facilitator in the researcher Brené Brown’s vulnerability-focused “Dare to Lead” program, she sees vulnerability as a form of bravery: the courage to take on uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.
“If I want to work on a team and do amazing things in the world, then I have to find a way to have those people believe in me, trust me, want to follow me into traffic,” Carrick says. “And I don’t think we get that unless we’re willing to be courageous with each other.”
Brown introduced millions to the power of vulnerability in 2010 with her record-breaking TED Talk and then her bestsellers, including Daring Greatly and Rising Strong. Leading with vulnerability has lately been championed as a kind of “soft skills” superpower, particularly for women. It is said to increase team output, creativity, and the bottom line, and to empower women to…